Thursday, August 11, 2011

Revising as I go

I know a lot of writers who all write in completely different ways, so any time I write a new project I try a new method I've heard somebody else uses. I figure it can't hurt to toy around with process and see what sticks.

Normally I tear through a first draft without stopping, then go back and revise in complete passes over the whole script. That's not working this time.

Action scenes are my thing, so when I write a script heavy on action I just race through those scenes, rarely doing any serious revisions after the initial burst of energy onto the page. This script, however, is light on action and much heavier on dialogue than anything I've ever written before. So my technique has had to adjust.

Dialogue's tough for me. I don't like to watch people standing around talking and I hate blatant exposition, so I'm never satisfied with my big dialogue scenes. I know a handful of writers who edit as they go, so I decided to try this. I've been writing, then revising, then writing, then revising. The bad news is that it's taking me longer than usual to get through the first draft, but the good news is that the first draft will be closer to something complete than it usually is.

I'm still deciding whether I like this method or not. I guess we'll see how it turns out.


  1. I'm a member of the edit as you go fan club. The more time I spend on the earlier written scenes, the better handle I have on the characters. I'm also a pantser, so that could be why I need to spend that time getting to know my character.

    The thing to remember with revising ad you go is to let it go. Revise but don't polish.

    I'm curious to hear how you like this process once your first draft is finished.

    Disclaimer: I write prose, so don't know how the process translates to scripts.

  2. Another possible technique. Write as if no one will ever see it: You're on that island that Tom Hanks was on, in CASTAWAY.

    And after you're done, you build a raft, and head on out. The sun is merciless, you're short on coconuts. You lose consciousness...and drift into the shipping lanes.

  3. I'm a member of the Coco fan club, from Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, as expressive and complex as every other character, yet her only dialogue is "Coco coco coco." Such a brilliant funny device.

    Having a thing with action scenes is a damn fine thing to have.

  4. And a year later, you're taking a meeting with Danny Boyle, and you've got ICE, in your glass...

  5. That's the way I do it, too - revising as I go. I think it works better for me - I don't feel good moving forward, not reading my work or feeling good about it. So it does take longer up front, but I've found I feel much better tackling the next day's writing when I'm not doing it as blindly as just adding more each day without looking back - but that method definitely works for some people. Who knows? I may try it again someday, too.


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